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Fall Soaring with the Flying Leonards

By Bob Holiday

Throughout the spring and summer I was anticipating an early fall trip to Moriarty to visit Bob & Barbara Leonard. Demands from work prevented me from making the trip until Sunday October 11. I arrived just as the balloon festival was ending and they told me all about the event and the things they saw and did the previous week. The festival sounds good and I may have to see that for myself someday but I think I would rather go soaring.

Monday Oct 12: after a hearty breakfast (Barb knows how to keep a guy well fed) we headed over to the gliderport to talk with George Applegate about some AD's on the -19 and then to fly in the local area. There was some high cloudiness coming in and it looked iffy at best. While I was preparing to hook my glider trailer up, a Spitfire flew down the runway at about 250 ft, then entered the pattern and landed. Everyone headed for the tie down area with cameras and grins. It was a trainer model with the instructor bubble mounted higher than the GIF. We all took pictures and admired the machine while the pilot answered questions such as:"how many gallons per hour does a 1200 hp engine use?" The guy had flown down from Vail Co. and was part of the Confederate Airforce.

We launched about 1:30 pm but I never hooked up with much lift. Bob Leonard flew about an hour and 20 min. What lift I found was 1 knot and real small size. It was a good day to familiarize myself with the surroudings. After the usual hangar flying and visiting we had dinner at an Italian restaurant in Edgewood.

Tuesday morning the weather looked slightly better with the possibility of some clearing by early afternoon of the high clouds. Bob launched first at about 1 pm and I had to let a student in a 2-33 launch before me. By the time I launched Bob L. was near Estancia and heading towards the Monsanto range. I circled in lift from 2-4 knots and got as high as 15K feet near the Monsanto's although by the time I got there Bob L. was already back in the Moriarty area and heading east I believe. The trees (Maple) that are growing on the eastern side of the range were real pretty with their fall colors, my pictures would later confirm that the light wasn't right. I flew in the area of the Monsanto's for quite a while until the lift began to diminish then took my time returning to the airport. Bob L. was getting closer to his goal of 200 hrs for the season with both of us logging about 3 Hrs.

After putting away the gliders I saw a fellow pulling out a beautiful Stearman so I went over and asked him if his name was Stephen Coonts. He said his name was Bob Wright and asked me if I wanted to go up with him. I watched him spin up the starter and that radial engine just sat there and purred. We climbed out slowly at about 2-300 ft per minute. He did some pylon type turns and stalls, then a Spin and two "touch and goes". I really enjoyed watching the sunset and letting someone else do the flying. After hangering the biplane we went to dinner at the El Commode restaurant with Bob & Barb.

What a Day!


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